Tasmania's isolation, diverse terrain and climate have allowed many species that did not survive on the mainland to thrive in this unique island environment. Some even hark back to the super-continent, Gondwana, including the burrowing freshwater crayfish (virtually unchanged for the last 200 million years, and still be found today in alpine tarns and creeks in the south west).
Tasmania also boasts the largest marsupial carnivores in the world such as the famous Tasmanian Devil, the lesser known spotted and eastern quolls, and the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger. The island has also seen the arrival of Asian invaders some millions of years ago, such as rodents and bats who have now adapted to Tasmania's special environment.
Despite early invasions, Tasmania has been largely spared the depredations of exotic species (foxes in particular) that have plagued the Australian mainland's native wildlife. Tasmania's remoteness and rugged mountain terrain has also limited European land clearing, and as a result, visitors to Tasmania's wilderness areas can share and enjoy its unique fauna in a wide array of habitats throughout the island. Many of these creatures are most commonly (although not exclusively) seen at night in their natural habitat, and bushwalkers should expect to encounter a large range of wildlife, including:
Many of these species, now extinct on mainland Australia, survive only because of the diverse topography, geology, soils, vegetation and climatic conditions found in Tasmania's parks and reserves. In fact, over two thirds of Tasmania's 33 mammalian species alone can be found in the World Heritage Area. Sharing wilderness areas with these creatures is a very special experience that can only be encountered in remote places accessible by foot.